The next generation of advanced, highly detailed 3D printers was created four years ago, with the unveiling of the full operation taking place just this past December.
|Scalable Printing Sensors and Electronics at the Nanoscale|
In 2014, in collaboration with Milara, Inc., a Boston automation company, the world’s first nanoscale fully automated offset printing system (NanoOPS) for 3D printing of sensors and electronics. NanoOPS is fast, scalable, and capable of printing multiscale (nano, micro and macro) structures at low facilities and operational cost. It is fully automated, robotic, and cyber-enabled. It is three orders of magnitude faster and higher resolution than the current inkjet and 3D printing. The printing process takes place at room temperature and pressure, and the ink can include variety of nanomaterials (nanoparticles, nanotubes, or polymers) suspended mostly in water. Any material that can be suspended or dissolved in a liquid can be printed on any flexible or rigid substrate. Nano OPS can print 1000 times faster and 1000 times smaller circuit lines, than inkjet or 3D printer at a cost that’s 10-100 times less than conventional nanofabrication. The second generation of Nano OPS (NanoOPS Gen 2) was unveiled on December 13, 2017. The Third Generation NanoOPS is scheduled to be unveiled in the summer of 2018.
The technology has been used to print transistors and diodes using a variety of organic and inorganic semiconductors. It has been used to print nano and micro LEDs using inorganic semiconductors and a biosensor platform for real-time pathogen monitoring and for wearable sensors to monitor physiologic state, such as measuring glucose using sweat as shown in Figure 3. These printed flexible sensors were printed for wearable sensors that could be used as an electronic skin or for physiological monitoring as well as environmental monitoring.
This printing technology can “democratize” nanomanufacturing, making it more broadly accessible to industry and entrepreneurs and unleashing a wave of creativity for nano-enabled product innovation. For example, a directed assembly-based printing manufacturing facility could be built for less than $50 million, a fraction of today’s cost, making nanotechnology accessible to millions of new innovators and entrepreneurs and unleash a wave of creativity the same way the advent of the PC has done for computing and the internet.
Videos sponsored by the National Science Foundation featured the printing technology are available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iEjIcog774 and the Museum of Science Boston documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZeO9I1KEec. For more info visit www.nano-ops.net